Baptist Health Wound Care offers help to avoid and treat winter wounds

January 26, 2022

One of the biggest culprits of preventable wintertime wounds is heat.

(Paducah, KY) Jan. 26, 2022 - With severe winter weather upon us, outdoor activities can result in wounds for an unfortunate few.

Precipitation, such as snow, sleet and freezing rain, can make sidewalks and parking lots dangerous. Falls are much more prevalent during these weather conditions and can result in skin tears and painful abrasions.

One of the biggest culprits of preventable wintertime wounds is heat. Sitting too close to fireplaces, space heaters or other heat sources can cause burns on the extremities.  Many diabetics experience neuropathy keeping these burns from even being noticed, leading to an increased risk of infection. “Patients with limited sensation can develop a wound or burn quickly while never realizing the wound or burn exists,” according to Chad Bassi, DPM, Baptist Health Medical Group Podiatry & Vascular Surgery and one of the panel physicians at Baptist Health Wound Care.

One of the most common, but often underestimated conditions during the winter season is frostbite. Frostbite occurs when skin freezes during exposure to cold weather or water, causing either visible or invisible damage to cells and soft tissues.  Frostbite usually affects extremities (fingers, toes and ears) first, but can also affect the cheeks, chin or any other exposed skin. Frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes in certain temperatures.  Those with diabetic neuropathy who have decreased sensation can be even more susceptible to frostbite.  In addition, you are at a higher risk if you take medicine for high blood pressure, suffer from diabetes or poor circulation, or have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.  Symptoms of frostbite can include numbness, swelling, blisters, redness or blackened skin.  Another provider at Baptist Health Wound Care, vascular surgeon Dr. Jason Cumbers, says that addressing frostbite as soon as it is noticed is extremely important. “Timely diagnosis and treatment from a medical professional is essential with frostbite to maximize tissue salvage and achieve the best results.”

Winter weather can be tedious and dangerous at times.  It is important to remember to use caution when outside.  Be certain to always dress appropriately.  Be extremely aware of extremities, particularly, if you have neuropathy. Also, remember to limit exposure to the bitter temperatures. 

If you or a loved one experience a winter wound or are concerned about potential frostbite injury, please call Baptist Health Wound Care at 270.515.2414.  Physician referral is not required.